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Recipe Redux: Hot Cocoa Mix

I was thrilled when I read the topic for this month’s redux–mixes! I Love making and giving food mixes, well, just food gifts in general. And I knew immediately I was going to make a hot cocoa mix. Who doesn’t love a steamy mug of hot cocoa on a chilly day? No one in my house that’s for sure.

I started looking around at various hot cocoa mix recipes and found a common ingredient, one I didn’t care to use in mine–powdered non-dairy creamer. Yes, with all the various flavors available you can make a variety of kinds of hot chocolate mixes. But for my mix, I wanted one that was more au natural. So I measured and mixed and mixed and measured until I came up with a mix that I liked. And of course, one that my kids gave their stamp of approval on.

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See what my colleagues mixed up:

 


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Recipe Redux: Champagne Cloud

No cook desserts is this month’s theme and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. When I think no cook desserts I think of recipes that can literally be thrown together in minutes and boy could I use a recipe like that this week. Right on the heels of school restarting, we’ve had soccer start, are beginning cubscouts, PTO activities, oh yeah, and work has to fit in there somehow. Anything that needs little to no cooking gets my vote.

This recipe came from my mother-in-law, Gail. It was one of those dishes she used to make for my husband that he asked if I could make. And, lucky for me, it was super easy. It’s also very forgiving. Keen eyes may notice there are raspberries in the pictured dish, however the recipe calls for strawberries. The dish also originally called for Cool Whip, but any favorite non-dairy topping would work fine as well. In fact, I actually used some leftover whipped cream (a rarity because I never have it in the house and just happened to be doing some experimenting which left me with some). And, you can play around with the sugar amount as well. Since raspberries often have a tendency to be a bit on the tart-sweet side, I used the amount called for, but you could certainly use less if you desire.

I also love the fact that while this is a sweet treat, you’re actually getting 3 types of fruit, and a fair amount too, not just a measly speck here and there. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  Let me know.

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For more no-cook treats, check out what my colleagues have to offer:


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Recipe Redux: Ice Cream in a Bag

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit, I’m taking a bit of liberties with this month’s topic–Food in a Jar. But, as we’re in the dog days of summer and I just returned from a family camping trip (where we made this), this recipe is all I can think about. And really, how much different is a bag from a jar, right?

So, ice cream in a bag, yes you read it correctly. Sounds weird, but yum! Keep in mind, this is ice cream and therefore will contain real cream and real sugar, but that’s pretty much it, except for a splash of pure vanilla extract. And personally, I’d much rather feed my family a small amount of the “real” stuff than a bunch of stuff with words I can’t pronounce–seems kinda strange to me that some store bought ice creams have an ingredient list that’s over an inch thick. Really, how much room do the words “cream, sugar” take?

Something else to keep in mind about this recipe–it’s portion control at it’s finest. If you can’t stop yourself with just a scoop of ice cream, no worries here, you have to, that’s about all there is.

Plus, it’s a great activity for the whole family. My kids are amazed that I pour a liquid into a bag and a few minutes later we’re scooping out a solid, a sort of solid at least.

This recipe is pure vanilla, but we’ve experimented with adding a little chocolate syrup which of course is yummy too. Let me know if you try any fun flavors.

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See how my fellow bloggers dealt with this challenge:


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Recipe Redux: Travel Snacks

Both my husband’s and my family live out of state–in a variety of states, so my family is very used to long car trips. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, this month’s topic for my Recipe Redux post is travel snacks.

We always pack plenty of water and fruit, but for especially long trips, its nice to have something a bit more substantial. Granola bars are a great grab-n-go snack, and by making them myself, I can control what goes in so they’re not too high in sugar, have a decent amount of fiber, and contain only “real” ingredients.

The following recipe for Chewy Granola Bars is yummy as is, but the fun part is you can play around with it to suit your tastes or ingredients on hand. For example, you can replace some of the oats with wheat germ. You can use dried fruits like raisins or craisins, or nuts like pistachios or almonds, for some or all of the chocolate chips. You can throw in some ground flax—let yourself get creative. And if you happen to be enjoying these at home, they’re extra yummy heated up just a touch in the microwave.

Chewy Granola Bars
Chewy bars with just the right touch of sweetness.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. 1/4 cup canola oil
  7. 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  8. 1/2 cup honey
  9. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  10. 1 cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and stir together.
  3. Add wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Press mixture into the prepared pan firmly. Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown. After 10 minutes using a buttered spatula or spoon, press firmly down again.
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing and serving.
  6. Store in an airtight container. These also freeze well for longer storage.
Notes
  1. I love to zap these in the microwave for a few seconds before eating.
Foodie Mom, RD http://www.appleadaynutrition.net/blog/

I hope you enjoy them as much as my family.

Check out some more tasty on the go treats:

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Attention google reader users

Hi all,

So, some of you may have heard the news that Google is phasing out Google Reader by July. Most of you I believe read my blog thru email subscription, but for those of you who use Google reader, I’d like to suggest you either subscribe via email or find alternative RSS reader to continue to follow my blog.   Thank you all for reading!

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Recipe Redux: Home Fries

I’m so excited about this month’s recipe redux: Brunch. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, followed closely by brunch. What’s not to love–all the delicious yummyness of breakfast with all the heartiness of lunch all at one meal! But, what kind of recipe??? Pancakes, waffles, french toast, eggs benedict, oh, the list goes on. Well, one of my latest go-to side dishes at dinner has been a quick version of roasted potatoes, which got me thinking about home fries–those creamy nuggets of flavor that pair so well with both the sweet and savory brunch foods.

To boost the nutrient quota I decided to add some vitamin-A packed sweet potatoe to the mix with delicious results. I hope you and yours enjoy my spin on home fries as much as mine do. Let me know.

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Check out what my other reduxers have to offer for brunch:



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Recipe Redux: Mini Carrot Cupcakes

I LOVE cupcakes, so I was thrilled when I learned they were the topic this month’s redux! They are just perfect little personal bundles of sweetness. Oh, but what kind to make for the challenge???? Chocolate, vanilla, something unique, oh how will I ever choose?

Then it hit me–Carrot! My mother makes me carrot cake every year for my birthday and has for I can’t remember how long. Oh how perfect to make little individual servings of my favorite cake. This recipe has been in my family forever, but to make mini cupcakes I wanted to tweak it a bit. I changed a little here and there, but the main change was the frosting. I am definitely a frosting person, love the creaminess with each little bite of cake. But I have to admit, the frosting on this carrot cake is often even too rich for my sweet tooth. I decided to cut the recipe in half and then place just a little dollop on each cake.

The result: perfection if I do say so myself. Tell me what you think….

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Check out these other yummy, bite-sized treats too!



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GIVEAWAY: Grab & Go Snack Idea

The other day when I went to the mail box, I found a big box from Nature’s Bakery, thank you very much by the way.


You can see all the pretty little packages I found when I opened it–all filled with different yummy flavors of fig bars.

There’s apple cinnamon, raspberry, blueberry, and more.  Many are whole wheat–with whole wheat flour being the first ingredient!

I haven’t tasted one I didn’t like yet,  and trust me, there’s quite a few empty wrappers in my trash can.  And without sounding too much like a commercial, these are trans and sat fat free, dairy free, kosher, and the whole grain ones provide 4 grams of fiber in just two bars.

If you’re interested in possibly trying some, Nature’s Bakery is running a contest from now until the end of the month.  It’s about Mommy Survival Kits.  All you have to do is tweet @naturesbakery with the name or picture of one or more items that are must haves in your “Mommy Survival Kit”.  It can be anything from chapstick, to wipes, to a certain snack, or anything that’s a must have for you.  The company will create 4 kits of what moms have tweeted at us and GIVE THEM AWAY. Contest runs until the end of this month–so hurry up and start tweeting!

Good luck!

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Plan to Eat Healthier – Part 1

One of the often suggested steps to eating healthy is planning your weekly meals ahead of time. Planning your meals allows you to make sure you’re including a variety of foods in your weekly meals. It allows you to make one big shopping list and therefore helps prevent all of those mid-week quick stops at the grocery store–less trips to the store mean less impulse purchases of chips, candy, etc. And, planned meals and fewer grocery store trips means you’ll spend less money and who doesn’t want to do that?

The excuse I hear most for not planning meals ahead is lack of time. But that’s just hogwash! It can take as little as a half hour or so (once you’re organized) to plan a week’s worth of meals, and just 3 extra trips per week to the grocery store could easily take 3 times that much. And going out to eat or even the drive thru a few days a week adds up to more time spent. So there!

It may not surprise you but I am one of THOSE people that does plan my meals. Honestly, I think if I didn’t plan, the stress of not knowing what I was having for dinner each day would kill me. Planning meals can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make. I’ve seen examples on Pinterest of very elaborate meal planning methods like this and this.  As you can see by my menus for this week:

my system is on the simple side. I choose as many meals as I need for the week, but don’t necessarily know which meal is for which day. I know that I’ll be making pizza on Saturday for family movie night and I know the crock pot soup (cp soup on list) is for Monday when I have less than an hour between my son’s Tae Kwon Do and my daughter’s science team meeting. The rest, I play by ear. Some meals are very specific with the entree, side, and veg while others are just an entree without other specifics and I’ll pick a vegetable that looks good at the store or head to my freezer or pantry for a quick and easy veggie that night.

I challenge you non-meal planners to give it a try. I’m sure you’ll find you’re eating healthier and cheaper too! Start out slowly–make a list of a few of your family’s go-to meals. Include the sides and veggies you’d serve, when appropriate. Then, for each meal, make a list of all of the ingredients you’d need for that dinner. You don’t need to include staples like oil, seasonings, etc. Just include those ingredients you’d need to buy to prepare the meal. These lists are what you’ll refer to when making your weekly grocery list. But don’t worry about that yet. For now, just write down the meal idea and ingredient lists. At the very least, pick 7 meals, but you can do as many as you’d like. The more options, the more varied your eating will be from week to week. Come back next week to learn what step 2 is.

You’ll see one of the meals on my list this week is Wh Grn breaded Chick a la heidi with
rstd broc. Translation: Whole Grain Breaded Chicken Cutlets a la Heidi (a la Heidi means the sweet tomato sauce I serve on the chicken) with roasted broccoli. Here’s the chicken recipe if you want to include it on your list.

(In planning this week I was still being inspired by the Kretschmer Wheat Germ that was so generously given to me.)

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Here you can see how the chicken should look cooking.  The one on the right has already been flipped.   Hope you try and enjoy this and Good luck as you begin menu planning!  Let me know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

This post is linked to The Country Cook Potluck

 

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Perfect Pancakes

One of my favorite things about weekend mornings are the relaxed breakfasts.  During the week, my husband’s already at work by the time I’m getting the kids through their cereal or toast so we can head off to school on time. But on a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning–usually we only get one per weekend as we’re typically rushing off somewhere at least one of those days–I love to get out the skillets or griddle, and slowly cook up a pan of creamy scrambled eggs and golden potatoes, or poach eggs, or as I did this weekend, make yummy, fluffy pancakes.

This particular weekend I was fortunate enough to have been given some Kretschmer wheat germ and thought it’d make a perfect addition to my pancakes, and I was right.

Wheat germ is exactly what the name says it is–the germ of the wheat plant.  This tiny nugget of nutrition is packed with vitamins and minerals because this is basically the seed of the wheat plant.  If the germ is allowed to sprout, this is what develops into new wheat plants and these nutrients help it do so.  And of course, these nutrients are super helpful to we humans too!

In just about 2 tablespoons wheat germ you’ll get 20% of your daily needs of Vitamin E and Folic Acid, as well as 10% of your daily needs of Thiamin, Phosphorus, and Zinc.  These nutrients offer an array of benefits, including promoting heart health, cancer protection, and helping healthy babies develop in moms-to-be.

And, getting 2 tablespoons over the course of a day is incredibly easy.  You can easily sprinkle some on your cereal in the morning, your yogurt at snack time, and your salad at dinner.  But, there’s so much more you can do with it.  It’s fantastic as an ingredient in baking (as you’ll see with the pancakes below) and cooking (later in the week I’ll be making some crusted chicken cutlets with a delicious tomato sauce, and of course I’ll share the recipe).  Check out this chart from Kretschmer for great tips on how to incorporate wheat germ into your recipes.

I hope you’ll give these pancakes a try on your next lazy morning, and that your family gobbles them up as mine did.

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